BEACHWOOD, incorporated as Beachwood Village on 26 June 1915 and as a city in 1960, is 10 miles east of Cleveland and bounded by SOUTH EUCLID and LYNDHURST on the north, SHAKER HTS. and UNIV. HTS. on the west, HIGHLAND HILLS VILLAGE on the south, and PEPPER PIKE on the east. It occupies approx. 4.6 sq. mi. and was originally a part of Warrensville Twp. In 1915 merchants, tradesmen, and farmers from the northeastern part of the township petitioned to withdraw; on 15 June 1915, the proposal passed. The new village had 151 residents. Although much of Beachwood’s early history was characterized by boundary disputes, annexation disagreements, lack of funds (including default in the 1930s), school reorganizations, and zoning problems, it grew substantially after World War II into a residential community. Its population soared from 372 in 1940 to 9,631 in 1970. Efforts to develop a commercial tax base often faced homeowner resistance and required changes to Van Sweringen Co. deed restrictions dating to an earlier planned residential development called Shaker Country Estates. Many proposals for shopping centers in the 1950s and 1960s faltered.
The pro-growth mentality of Mayor George Zeiger (1962-81) and completion of I-271 in 1972 stimulated commercial and industrial expansion. Land was rezoned for limited business and industrial developments, including Commerce Park (1962), an industrial park, and Commerce Park Square (1966), the first major office complex in the area. A third major development, Science Park, was started in 1984. The city’s first shopping center, LaPlace (1969) opened at the southeast corner of Cedar and Richmond Roads, followed by Pavilion Mall (1974) on Chagrin Boulevard east of Green Road, and Beachwood Place (1978), a regional mall next to LaPlace. In 1993 residents unsuccessfully tried to block expansion of Beachwood Place, and the project was completed by 1997. Despite the significant growth of office buildings, corporate parks, and shopping centers, most of Beachwood remained residential, with homes, apartments, condominiums, schools, churches, synagogues, and sports and recreational facilities. However, its population growth slowed dramatically after 1970. The city rose from 9,631 in 1970 to 12,186 in 2000.
Another significant development was Beachwood’s gradual emergence as the center of Jewish community life (see JEWS & JUDAISM). In the 1950s, two synagogues, Suburban Temple-Kol Ami and ANSHE CHESED Fairmount Temple, overcame considerable opposition to build in Beachwood. In 1955, the JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER considered several Beachwood sites for a new centralized facility but opted to build in Cleveland Heights. In the second half of the 1950s, non-Jewish residents to the south of Fairmount Boulevard tried unsuccessfully to break away from the predominantly Jewish area to their north and seek annexation by Shaker Hts. However, by 1980, Beachwood, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, and Pepper Pike (dubbed Core Area II by the Jewish Community Federation) comprised 26% of Greater Cleveland Jewish households, up from 18% ten years earlier. By comparison, Core Area I (Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, University Heights, and South Euclid) declined from 65% to 54%. Institutional development accompanied the population movement. MENORAH PARK CENTER FOR THE AGING moved from GLENVILLE to Beachwood in 1968. MONTEFIORE HOME left Cleveland Heights for Beachwood in 1991. A second Jewish Community Center opened in Beachwood in 1986, and in 2005 it became the sole facility. In 2010 the Jewish Community Federation left downtown Cleveland for Beachwood and was renamed the JEWISH FEDERATION OF CLEVELAND. TEMPLE-TIFERETH ISRAEL, located in University Circle, built a Beachwood branch in 1969, and in 2016 the expanded branch became the congregation’s main synagogue. Beachwood was also home to SIEGAL COLLEGE, Fuchs Mizrachi School, Mandel Day School (formerly AGNON SCHOOL), and Yavne High School for Girls. In 2005, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage opened on Richmond Road. In 2011, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland estimated that Beachwood had 10,700 Jewish residents (89.5%).
Beachwood’s population began to decline after 2000, mirroring a pattern in many Cuyahoga County suburbs. It fell from 12,186 to 11,953 in the decade ending in 2010, of whom about 14% were African American and about 7% were Asian. Its 2018 population was estimated at 11,658. In response to Beachwood’s dropping population, increasing demand for “live-work-play” lifestyles, a changing retail climate that challenged traditional shopping centers, and a growing job base, the city approved demolition of a portion of Commerce Park to permit development of The Vue, a 348-unit apartment complex, in 2013. The Beachwood city school system, ranked third in the state in spending per pupil in 2017, consisted of a high school, middle school, and 3 elementary schools. Beachwood’s municipal complex, which expanded in the 2000s to include a park and aquatic center on Fairmount Boulevard, mirrored the suburb’s ongoing effort to retain its reputation for an attractive quality of life.
Updated by Mark Souther
Morris, Jeffrey. Beechwood, The Book (2000), Cleveland Memory.
Souther, J. Mark. “Jewish Suburbanization and Jewish Presence in ‘The City without Jews.’” In Cleveland Jews and the Making of a Midwestern Community. Ed. Sean Martin and John J. Grabowski. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2020.
Last updated 6/20/2019
See also SUBURBS.